This project is born out of my Master’s work on the role of nostalgia in emotional design. Through an innovative design methodology that repurposes visual analysis techniques to explore principles of kansei design, I am creating a capsule collection of cross-generational knitwear that aims to spark connection through a heritage that is simultaneously personal and shared. By accessing both archival inspiration and family heritage through photographs and memories, I believe that a robust archive of craft can be perpetuated while also creating connection between practitioners and users.
I realise that sounds rather convoluted, but I also believe that crafters have an amazing capacity to think deeply and slowly about the actions they participate in. I have relished the opportunity – the time, the support from my tutors, and the motivation of a university program – to explore my handknitting practices in a new context. The interaction of history and future and the thrill of a craft that is at once ancient and alive resonate with anyone who uses their hands to create an object. When we pick up our needles or hook or spindle or whatever tool it may be, we are all participating in an archive that can only continue through living action.
This is the starting point for humbleknit. My aim is to create thoughtful colourways for heirloom knits, everyday knits, the socks you wear until threadbare and then mend twice, three times over. The cardigans that hang by the door for anyone to grab on their way out adventuring. The sweater you won’t let anyone borrow because it’s too precious, until someone more precious comes along and you find there is more joy in seeing someone else wearing your labour. The blanket that carries the first child home from hospital, and watches the second child arrive while clutched in an scared, excited little fist.
I am also curious about the possibilities for bringing this uniting passion for craft to those who don’t knit (yet!). Hand-dyed yarns have long outgrown the definition of “craze” and are firmly entrenched in the crafting community. This is awesome. Seeing so many new businesses – many run by women, many with families to support – flourish through the seemingly arcane business model of selling wool gives me so much hope for the continued creativity and passion that has always been at the heart of handknitting. Yet the aesthetic and expression of hand-dyed yarns are rarely available to non-knitters. Known in the industry as ‘space-dyed yarns’, this effect is less common on the high street. My goal in knitting hand-dyed yarns into simple, everyday garments is not simply to bring this aesthetic to a broader market, but also to trace the process of garment making through further craft actions, and create a story from undyed hank to treasured heirloom.
This is the manifesto of humbleknit. The name, like my ability to knit, comes down to me from the loving, laughing, living women of my family who have taught me so much through their quiet, everyday, remarkable lives. It’s a different world out there now, but the same thread runs through it.